Yesterday I was shocked to read a comment by Thomas Friedman, whom I think of as a very reasonable fellow on most issues. Speaking about Iraq he said: "We're seen as occupiers by many." I had to re-read it a couple of times. Is he saying we don't actually occupy Iraq? What does he call those hundred thousand-plus troops that marched in there and took over? Does he think we're guests? I don't recall an invitation. Wasn't there something about our being in imminent danger of annihilation from WMDs? Or was it "regime change"? And since when was "regime change" our business? Half of the American people have been aching for regime change here for six years, but no one wanted a foreign army to come in and do it for us.
Let's face it, Tom, we're invaders. We're occupiers. We bomb and/or invade any country we don't like, any time we feel like it, whether we're at war or not. Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq. We overthrow other countries' leaders and install others more pleasing to us. We do it because we can--because we ourselves possess enough weapons of mass destruction to kill everyone on the planet.
The United States is not some poor little victim fighting off a world full of evil bullies. We dominate the world--at least militarily (we're losing influence in most other ways). And we have never for a moment hesitated to throw our weight around. It's time to stop lying to ourselves and pretending we're vulnerable and pathetic.
It has never been clear to me why it's considered patriotic to be a Nervous Nellie--to be perpetually terrified that some big bad country is going to invade America. I lived through the Communist hysteria when there was a Red under every bed and we had to invade Vietnam to keep the Russians out of Yonkers. When all the while the Soviet Union was rapidly crumbling under the weight of the vast, unwieldy, secretive bureaucracy that the Bush administration is so determined to imitate. I lived through the hysteria over little Cuba. Over tiny Grenada. Over Panama. Over little Iraq and its fearsome WMDs.
And it goes on. Bush has even whipped up hysteria over utterly decrepit North Vietnam. And over Iran, the most modern and westernized Islamic nation in the Middle East since we made a mess of Iraq. If Bush keeps attacking every Islamic country that has a large secular westernized middle class, there will soon be nothing left in the Islamic world but fanatic fundamentalists, i.e., terrorists. Perhaps that's his goal.
Armies that invade other countries are not liberators. Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Milosevich, the Taliban--the leaders of most invading armies have called themselves liberators, but the popularity of a lie doesn't render it true.